If your collision was caused by an emergency vehicle, you may still be entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured due to negligence.
According to Missouri state law, if you are the victim of a car accident, you are generally entitled to compensation from the at-fault party. However, if the other party is an emergency vehicle, then proving liability is not so simple.
Emergency vehicles can be ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, and other similar cars. Their purpose is to respond to critical situations and provide aid. Because these matters are often very time sensitive, legally speaking, emergency vehicles to do not have to respect ordinary traffic regulations when responding to an emergency.
The Responsibilities of the Other Driver
Legally, drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to police, fire trucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles when these are using a siren. When drivers hear these signals and see the emergency vehicles in the rear mirror, they must pull over to the right edge of the road, or as near the right as possible. If at an intersection, vehicles must first drive through it, then pull over. Cars will remain in position until the emergency vehicles pass.
Emergency vehicles have the right of way, but only when they use sirens or air horns, which signals that they are responding to a critical situation and must proceed rapidly. If not, these vehicles must respect the traffic regulations just like any other driver.
By that logic, two different situations can come up: being hit by an emergency vehicle while in action and being hit by one under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, in each case liability, and asking for compensation can be quite tricky.
“Move Over:” The Penalties for the Drivers Who Don’t Respect the Law
There’s a simple reason why we have laws: to make people safe. And on the road, the rules sometimes may seem more strict, but that’s because the risk of unpleasant incidents is quite high.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the state gathered a 75% injury rate per 100 million miles of traveled in 2015, and a 1.2% death rate that same year. If you look at the data, these rates fluctuate considerably from year to year. That’s because the legislation itself changes to keep up with the times and try to make these accidents less frequent.
One such rule of law is Missouri’s “Slow Down, Move Over” provision created in 2002, and then expended in 2012. Its goal is to provide a safer way of passage for emergency vehicles such as police cars, or ambulances that are often required to ignore traffic regulations to respond to emergencies.
What Does the Law Say?
In a nutshell, drivers in Missouri must approach emergency vehicles cautiously whenever they are displaying the red and blue lighting, signaling their active duty. The same principle applies to drivers approaching vehicles owned by the state highways and transportation commission. Drivers must change lanes away from the signaling car if they are on a multi-lane road, but only if they can safely do so. If not, they must slow down to a safe speed to not disturb the traffic.
According to the Missouri statutes, breaking the Slow Down, Move Over law is automatically considered a Class A Misdemeanor.
If the violation is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor, the state imposes some standard penalties, though you should know the context of the accident can influence the final sentence. Assuming there are no victims involved, and the driver’s only offense is breaking the Move Over law, then the driver will receive a fine that will not exceed two thousand dollars, and can even expect to spend up to one year in jail.
As you can see, breaking this law has some of the most severe penalties from the entire misdemeanor categories. The reason behind these harsh punishments is to prevent drivers from disregarding moving emergency vehicles. Because of their line of work, police cars, ambulances or fire trucks generally travel at very high speed. As such, the impact of a collision can have even greater consequences than under other reasonable circumstances.
What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
If you are the victim of a collision with an emergency vehicle or a negligent driver, then you should know that the steps are similar to the ones you should take in an auto accident. Stop the car, get out and check for injured parties, call authorities and wait for their arrival.
The matters get tricky from here, which is why you should consider hiring an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney to represent you.
In any case, the burden of proving negligence lies on the victim. Your St. Louis car accident attorney must acquire the evidence to shows that the collision took place because of driver negligence.
Even if the collision was caused by an emergency vehicle, you still have the right to compensation if you’ve been injured due to negligence on the part of the other driver. Give us a call today at (314) 361-4242 to learn more about what you may be entitled to.